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Providing Students with More than Just an Education: The Sixth Annual Outstanding Mentor Award
On May 26, 2014, in a ceremony held in the International Conference Hall, the Sixth NTHU Outstanding Mentor Award was conferred to Professor Chang Mi-Chang of the Department of Electrical Engineering, Professor Chen Lin-Yi of the Institute of Molecular Medicine and the Department of Medical Science, and Professor Huang Jia-Hong of the Department of Engineering and System Science. During the ceremony NTHU President Hong Hocheng felicitated all three for their excellent teaching and student guidance.

Chang Mi-Chang—A Teacher for All Seasons

Professor Chang says that his goal in life is to pass on all that he has learned to the younger generation. He also hopes that students will gradually mature during their four years at university, gain self-confidence, and find their direction in life. Indeed, Chang delights in the prospect that someday his students may surpass his own achievements. 
Chang has over 70 students in his C programming class and teaches them over 140 codes every week. Yet he somehow finds time to run each code and looks them over and makes comments. Chang strives to teach by personal example and often says that the code his students wrote has a certain kind of beauty. Not satisfied with merely running his students’ codes and seeing that they work, Chang emphasizes the thinking process that goes into creating them. Thus he endeavors to take the student's point of view as he goes through each line looking for parts that need improvement. Recognizing the remarkable care Prof. Chang puts into checking their codes, his students naturally strive to improve their work.
Although Prof. Chang is the official advisor for only six students, he actually provides guidance to a large number of students and makes it a point to have a personal chat with as many of his students as possible. Ever solicitous of his students’ needs, at times Prof. Chang even goes so far as to put his students into contact with his associates in the industrial sector who are willing to share their knowledge and experience. Indeed, Prof. Chang goes all out to help his students, not only with their school work, but also with whatever problems they may be facing in life.
As a way of encouraging students to develop their critical faculties, Prof. Chang generally refrains from providing simple answers. Sometimes he smilingly stands back and observes the student groping about for a solution, and when the time is right he nudges the student in the right direction. Knowing what it's like to grapple with a problem, he takes much pleasure in observing the process by which students undergo a kind of metamorphosis. When the student finally breaks out of his cocoon he makes it a point to compliment them and give the student all the credit. 

Find your career, find your life!—Chen Lin-Yi

When she was growing up, Associate Professor Chen Lin-Yi never thought that she would become a teacher. She had an interest in the biological sciences and thought she would pursue a career in medicine. Although enthusiastic about teaching, if she had a chance to do it all over again, the outgoing Chen would choose the field of creative design.
While design and biology may seem to be poles apart, for Prof. Chen they are closely interrelated: "Actually, there is a close connection between drawing and biology. Prior to the invention of the high resolution microscope it was necessary to use drawings. Even today, when using a simple microscope without photographic capabilities you still need to draw. In my classes I show students drawings made by biologists 100 years ago. Then I show them an image made using a modern microscope so that they can see that there is very little difference." So research in the biological sciences is both an art and a science.
Chen knows the importance of being a good listener. Whenever a student comes to her, she would first listen to everything the student has to say, and only then gives some feedback: “It often happens that by the time they finished telling their story, they already have the answer they are looking for.” Once the student has arrived at the answer in this way, all they need is some affirmation and encouragement.
As Prof. Chen sees it, trust is an essential part of the teacher-student relationship, and trust is established by taking an active interest in one's students. “If I notice in class that a student looks out of sorts, I make it a point to ask how he or she is doing.” Once they sense that their teacher is genuinely concerned, their apprehension disappears. When it comes to helping her students, Chen maintains an open-door policy, and hopes that her students won’t be afraid to come to her with their problems. 
Even off campus, Prof. Chen is literally on call round the clock. Whenever they need help dealing with an unexpected problem, Chen is the first person they think of. For Chen, being a teacher at NTHU entails playing the role of a “backup parent,” someone students can lean on while away from home. 
Despite her role as a second mother outside of class, in the classroom Chen is strict with her students. In the first class she lays down a few simple rules, and makes it clear that she expects all her students to work hard, and that in her lab classes she is especially meticulous about observing her students’ every move. Chen smilingly mentions that even though she is very strict in the classroom, she is also very positive and reaffirming: “As long as you use the right teaching methods, students will be willing to learn, and will realize their potential, and come to welcome challenges.” 

If 20 years from now your knowledge and ability are equal to or superior to mine, only then would I consider myself to be a successful teacher—Huang Jia-Hong

When he was a boy Prof. Huang had no idea he would one day become a teacher, for his dream was to become a scientist. Recalling his student days and the teachers who had the greatest influence on him, he states, “There are four teachers who had a highly positive impact on my development. If not for them, I wouldn’t be here today.”
The first of these was his primary school teacher Chung Kun Hsiung, who was highly solicitousness towards his students, an approach which has been adopted by Huang in his own career as a teacher. Prof. Huang also credits Chung with arousing his interest in reading and learning. The second of these teachers was Chang Shih Chin, his thesis advisor when he was working on his master's degree in materials science and engineering at NTHU. In addition to what he learned in the classroom, Huang credits Chang with encouraging him to go abroad for further studies, a course of action which eventually led him into the teaching profession. The third teacher was Carl Altstetter, Huang's dissertation advisor at the University of Illinois. During his four years in the US, Huang learned from Prof. Altstetter not only about materials science, but also gained much insight into American culture and greatly increased his ability to think independently and critically. After graduation Huang met the last of these four influential teachers, Prof. Haydn H. D. Chen of the University of Macau, which led to a significant turning point in his career. At that time membrane technology was not highly developed, nor was it a popular research topic. However, Prof. Chen encouraged Huang to make a shift from metals to the under-studied specialization of membrane research.
While Prof. Huang has a good relationship with his students, he doesn’t want them to see him as a father figure: “In the past, education was carried out using an apprenticeship system. When a boy reached the age of around 13 he was sent to his teacher's house to begin his apprenticeship. That kind of teacher really was like a father. But as part of the contemporary education system, my primary role is to transmit all my knowledge to my students, who one day might become one of my colleagues, or perhaps even my boss.”
When students come to him with a problem, rather than giving a quick answer, Prof. Huang relates his own experience in dealing with a similar problem, giving the student an opportunity to think things out for himself and find his own solution. For example, three years ago a student who was flunking out came to Huang to ask for help. Instead of trying to intercede on his behalf, Huang merely suggested that he consider his options for transferring to another department or another school. A year later the student had gained admission to the Department of Medical Science and came to Huang's office to thank him for his advice: “He was grateful that I helped him to see things clearly. If I had just found a way to help, then he would have kept on struggling in the same way.” Prof. Huang doesn’t fawn on his students; rather, he helps them understand the nature of the problem, thereby increasing their ability to think for themselves.
Some people hold the view that students from a privileged background enjoy an abundance of educational resources, thus have an unfair advantage in comparison to other students. However, Huang sees things differently: “No doubt, coming from a privileged background can be an advantage, but you have to consider where the starting line is actually drawn. A student may come from a wealthy family or have a lot of talent, but if he doesn’t have a strong sense of purpose, then he hasn’t really left the starting line. For those who have such an advantage early in life, the starting line may be somewhat ahead of other contestants, but that doesn’t mean that they will run faster once the race begins. Once somebody has become clear about their professional goals, that's where the starting line is drawn; and that's when the race really begins.”
During his 25 years of teaching, Prof. Huang's enthusiasm for teaching has continually grown. Asked about what expectations he has for his students, Huang confidently states, “Of course, I hope that someday they will surpass my own accomplishments. When their knowledge and ability surpass mine, I will consider myself to have been a successful teacher.” In Huang's view, a successful teaching career is measured not by how many excellent students one has, but rather by how much progress one's students make!
Providing Students with More than Just an Education: The Sixth Annual Outstanding Mentor Award


Providing Students with More than Just an Education: The Sixth Annual Outstanding Mentor Award


Providing Students with More than Just an Education: The Sixth Annual Outstanding Mentor Award


Providing Students with More than Just an Education: The Sixth Annual Outstanding Mentor Award



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